The University of Birmingham has been criticised after statistics pertaining to animal testing were released – with the revelation that over 55,000 animals were used in a twelve month period. The animals were used by scientists of the University, under the banner of research. These findings have been criticised by Animal Rights groups, who have criticised the University for ‘failing to move with the times’. It also puts the institution’s students in the difficult position of possibly contributing to these tests, via their monetary input to the University. Read on for the full story.
In total 52,455 mice were used by the University in 2017. 1,385 rats, 798 fish and 90 frogs and newts were also among those to be used for research purposes. Birmingham’s Animal Justice Project suggested that the mice and rodents were abused and injured. They point to the fact that mice and humans are very different species – and therefore they shouldn’t be being used for experiments that aim to improve human resistance to various illnesses. They engaged in a march at the weekend against the University.
The group accused the University of Birmingham of ‘failing to move with the times’. Animal testing has been condemned by many, but Universities all over the United Kingdom have been engaging in similar experiments. Perhaps what is most worrying is that there was an increase of 7,000 animals used in 2017 as opposed to 2016. Moreover, from 2006 to 2017, the number of mice used has risen from 36,467 to 52,355. While many organisations have attempted to limit the number of animals used in testing, it appears the University of Birmingham have other ideas.
The University responded to the criticism that emanated from the statistics. They noted their research helped towards fighting ‘life-threatening’ and ‘debilitating’ diseases. They suggested that some tests can only be studied on a living organism. They also pointed to treatments for several illnesses that have been developed thanks to animal testing. Finally, they noted that 70% of the animals involved were a part of a breeding programme, and not actively involved in experimental procedures. The University confirmed they adhered to all of the relevant rules and regulations.
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Animal testing is a controversial topic. The term ‘for the greater good’ is often attributed to animal testing, or that it is a ‘necessary evil’. But these arguments are flawed, and it is clear from the outrage that animal testing causes that they are highly controversial. And yet, thanks to the results gained from animal testing, crucial medication has been developed that helps to save lives. But who is to say the life of a mouse isn’t equal to that of a human. Which argument is right? It is impossible to say, which is why this is such a polarising topic.